I love music, it is the food for the soul and for Christians, MUSIC means Make Us Sing In Christ. Not only Christianity, but literally every other religions in the world has some musical elements in their worship style. At Malaysia, “azan” from mosques can be heard, to indicate their worship time, the Buddhists and Hindus with their chants and many more. But this post is not about religion, it is about music and hopefully, by reading this post, some of you (the readers) will be able to find your motivation to learn more about music or reignite the spark that was lost.
To start of, I will share my story about my musical journey. I was born in a family of musical family, where my father is a band member of The Sting. He is a good guitar player, can sing very well, knows his ways around 88 keys of piano and recently, he plays violin as well! He is 59 by the way, and his life was just getting better because he now owns a superbike. I was a keen observer of his musical journey, but was never part of it. In fact, I was not interested at all, but I do listen to his CDs and videotapes. The most memorable ones are Van Halen Greatest Hits, Michael Learns to Rock: Paint My Love – Greatest Hits and Yngwie Malmsteen: Rising Force. Other than that, I also listen to countless numbers of his oldies collection, including Puppy Love, Edelweiss (from the 1965 film of The Sound of Music), Moon River, The Young Ones by Cliff Richard. I also noticed that I listened to The Shadows, the legendary instrumental band from England, and only realised it around 10 years later.
Looking at my father performing guitar and singing at that time, it sparked something inside my musical mind, but not too strong. However, when I finished my secondary school, and have nothing to do, instinctively, I am curious on how guitar works. So I picked up my father’s old guitar, a black Ibanez Destroyer II, a vintage guitar, modified and has an additional single-coil pick-up installed in between the stock humbuckers. That guitar looks awesome, it even has a sticker “heavy metal” pasted on it.
That’s the only picture that I have with the Ibanez Destroyer II. That photo was taken by my mother, using the camera that we rent from a nearby camera shop at Serian town for my school project. During that time, I have zero interest of playing it. If I knew how fun guitar playing was, I would start earlier, perhaps as soon as I can start writing. When I first started learning guitar, my finger hurts and it never cross my mind that the effort required to play a guitar would be that tremendous. However, knowing that I can play like Yngwie Malmsteen, or Eddie van Halen, I keep on practicing, using the best song in my list at that time, Mimpi yang Sempurna by Peterpan (now called Noah).
Mimpi yang Sempurna has the best chord, and I love it. It starts with and Em (minor), followed by C, G and lastly D. The pattern repeats. Believe me when I told you that those chords are very difficult to play with at the very beginning. Just imagine a baby starts to learn how to walk. But like a baby, even though I was unable to play those guitar chords, I never said to myself, this is not to me, just like a baby said, it is too difficult, and I will never walk. You have to find your motivation – and the key here is to find your truest desire, on why you want to play musical instrument.
Finding Your Reason to Play Music
For some people, their “why” on playing musical instrument or involved in the music varies from making money, for fame or simply for good cause (probably because their church has no guitar player/pianist/drummer/choir). For my, it is simply for the love of music, even if I am not being paid, it is something that I do for the love of it. As for my activities, I am involved with choir at FIAT Miri, from which I learn how to read musical scores. Before this, I have no formal training on music and to cover my shortcomings, I trained myself by hearing, not by sight-reading. But ideally, a musician should be able to sight-read and hear the chords. That would be awesome, and I am making my way there now, slowly but surely.
To make your life simple, here are the list of why’s that you can choose from.
- For money
- For love of music
- For fame
- For religious cause
- For charity
The reason why I asked you to pick your reason or “why” as my buddy, Marvin loves to call it (visit his website, a blog about motivation: marvininspire.com), is because the journey ahead is going to get rough, the higher you go. If your “why” is not strong enough, most likely you will fall even before you reach your final destination. Another advise for me is to stay strong, and find a buddy, someone who will keep an eye on you and reminds you whenever you are being sloppy or give a pat at your back whenever you are doing fine. My mistake when I first started my musical journey was having no buddy, so my momentum was fluctuating. Only when I formed my band, 3D (Taruh Dari), then I have started to earn consistent momentum. The first reason is not sustainable if you are not earning money, and for starters, nobody earns money from playing a beginner’s kind of music.
In my opinion, the most strong reason in this case would be number 2 – for the love of music. Love is the greatest force in this universe. However, if you have made up your mind, and I am pretty sure you had, let’s move on to the next part.
Choosing Your Musical Instrument
At Sarawak or Malaysia in general, the most abundant and affordable musical instrument is guitar. You can get a guitar for as low as RM50 (around $15). With that price, almost everyone can start to play guitar in Malaysia. However, for some, money is not easy to come by, so that leads to the next question, availability of the musical instrument. Even if you are not having the capital to buy your own musical instrument, you can start by borrowing your family members musical instrument or from your friends. It is not recommended to borrow from strangers unless you are very confident. I wish you all the best. Back to the topic above, you can try as much as possible musical instrument before you make up your mind. You need to consider a lot of factors, for example, will this skill matters in the next five years? Will there be a demand for this skills? Despite all this, I would suggest you ask yourself – is this the right musical instrument for me? I was inspired by Niccolò Paganini, the original virtuoso, that I read had inspired Yngwie Malmsteen to pick up guitar and crosses the Atlantic ocean make his career in metal music, and the rest is history. Perhaps, if you are inspired by Lindsey Stirling, you will choose violin. However, let’s not forget the musical instrument that we all have – our voice. You can improve your singing technique, as well as to improve your overall health because singing needs a lot of energy. If singing is properly done, you can be as good as the legends, such as like Celine Dion, Beyonce, Pentatonix (for group vocals) and a lot more.
In my choice, I chose guitar and sing because it is the most enjoyable thing to do, and at the same time, I felt like I am Matthew Bellamy (I am a huge fan of Muse)! As for summary of this section, here are list of common musical instrument that you can choose from:
- Piano / Organ
- Bass Guitar
Practice, Practice, Practice!
Once you have decided, the only thing left is to practice, practice and keep on practicing. I can’t emphasis enough how important practice is because if you are not practicing, your brain will not be wired take music as your second nature. Your bodily muscle will not be used to it as well. However, one friendly advise, if you were to start practicing, I strongly recommend attending a musical class or get a personal instructor. This will enable you to get the correct training, correct technique and avoid some common mistakes. This applies to all musical instruments listed above. Due to financial constraint, I was resorted to learn from a book and getting some tips from my father, although most of the time, I learn it from my own. Back in 2006, there was no Youtube for me to refer to due to hardware limitation. I have learned through the hard way. Nowadays, we have a lot of Youtubers, who is kind enough to sacrifice their time and energy to create a very informative videos to learn almost every musical instrument available now.
To kick start your practice, I recommend of putting aside an hour everyday to practice. This is not including the musical theory that you should obtain from proper class, or if you have time constraint, then I would recommend you to take some online lesson, which can be equally informative and more flexible in terms of timing.
Here is the list of things that you can do for your practice:
- Set a consistent practice schedule (e.g. 8pm everyday if you are working)
- Attend a class (perhaps during the weekend if you are working or have school to attend)
- Exercise regularly, especially for vocal health
In summary, these are just the guides that I wish I have read when I was just starting out my journey in music. Therefore, I wrote it in the simplest possible form, so that it will benefit you, your friends or even your family. Always remember, at the end of the journey, you can be as good as the band or musicians you desire to be or at least close to it.
If you have any comment or thoughts, do drop it by. I would love to hear from you. Do follow me at Instagram for your daily dose of motivation and inspiration, as I love to take pictures as well.
“Inspiring Others Through My Lens”
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